After the Theory of Evolution was published, the belief that life was based on a great plan ceased to be held by many. Natural selection and blind coincidence were seen to be the initiators of change. But wouldn’t it be true, and much more human, to acknowledge our amazement that every cell, every atom follows its own individual plan?
When we observe how atoms form cells in a very organised way, and how those cells form the various organs, it seems clear that everything follows a blueprint, and that the blueprint for a human being is enormously complex. We can wholeheartedly agree with Hermes Trismegistus: “Man is a great miracle, oh Asclepius.”
Look at the wonder of everything humanity has produced over the course of time, through culture, art and music, as well as the words that try to propel the development of our consciousness ‘according to the plan’.
An example is the Bhagavad Gita, a sacred book from humanity’s earlier days. Here are is an extract, paraphrased:
… I am the spirit that lives in the depth of the soul of every being. I am the beginning, the middle and the end of all things; their origin, their life and their decline. I am the active element in the kingdom of powers, the wisdom and the light in the eyes of the sages, The Creator and Nourisher of the universe, the origin of the universe and also its death, the end of all things.I am the silence in which the Divine secret dwells. I am the seed in every creature. In every power I am the primordial power of all powers. I am the origin of existence in everything that exists, for I am everything: without me, nothing exists. I am the self in all creatures, yet, from me, the entire universe emanates, as a manifestation of myself. …
Immersion in the plan leaves us in admiration and wonder. The classical Rosicrucians put it this way: “Oh Lord, all blessings and grace emanate from your Being. You have written the character of nature with your finger and no-one can read it without having learned in your school.”
There is a sublime plan, and we humans are part of it. Within us is the urge to create and to realise our potential. We can also recognise this urge in the plant and animal kingdom. Even a river appears to display the same urge to manifestation, beginning in the mountains, winding its way to its destination as part of the sea, only to evaporate in the warmth of the sum and to fall as blessed rain onto everything that grows. This urge to create is truly a great miracle. It is part of every atom of our world and of our being. It is the basis of every birth, every germinating seed, every growth.
When we observe our world of matter, we see this plan as a cycle of birth and death or, using one of the terms popular in the Lectorium Rosicrucianum, a cycle of rising, shining and fading.
The atoms from which we human beings are made have served since time immemorial to form living beings. Everything exists within and through everything else. Everything is built up and then broken down again to create something new. This is the everyday cycle of matter. The human being is born, grows up, lives life and then dies at a given moment. This is the plan. It is the law of this world. Imagine what would happen if the human being kept growing!
Yet we humans do not really want to take this cycle of life into account. Take, as an example, the assumption that economic growth can continue without end. An economist would admit that there can be a temporary negative growth rate, but would say that it would be followed by further upward development, and would not consider that growth will come to an end, even though the law of rising, shining and fading seems so obvious in our world.
The reason for this idea of continuing growth is our drive as human beings to hold onto what we possess and know. It is difficult for us to let go. We cling to the world of matter for our support.
When a tall tower collapses we immediately rebuild it; always higher, always more extravagantly – just look at Shanghai and Dubai. From ancient times human beings have always erected tall, majestic monuments to withstand the changes of time. But all over the world ancient ruins prove that everything crumbles with the passage of time.
It is often not matter but spiritual and cultural heritage that outlasts the changing times, the Bhagavad Gita and the words of Hermes Trismegistus being evidence of this.
So, what is the plan? What is the intention behind everything? What do we have to accomplish? Is there nothing but a cycle of matter, forever rising, shining and fading? Or is there also a spiritual growth without an end?
In spite of our intense longing for fulfilment, healing, permanent happiness, inner peace and harmony, we continue to experience breaking up, fading and decay in our lives.
Everything has two sides – in Hermes’ words, “Of all creatures on earth, only the human being is twofold: a mortal physical body and an immortal soul.”
The New Testament, Galatians 6, says that what matters is ‘a new creation’, ‘a new creature’.
Is this the secret of the plan? Is it about spiritual renewal, transformation? How can this be? It seems impossible. Isn’t our attention unceasingly determined by the world of matter?
Yes, if we are not careful. But it can dawn on us that our world of matter is intended as a place of education, not as the goal of life itself … we can become aware that a call is resounding, the silent voice of the spirit.
In Plato’s Meno he described the ability of the soul to recall all information: the soul, subconsciously, has access to all knowledge but this is all too easily blotted out by continuous attention to the demands of daily life. Nevertheless, the silent inner centre slowly gains influence. It gradually receives inspiration that nourishes the longing of the soul. There is a connection between the quality of this inner knowledge and how it influences the longing of the soul.
First, there is longing for silence. We often seek out silent places, as well as seeking inward silence. Only in silence, in a serene atmosphere, can the images of the plan in our soul express themselves. It requires both diligence and focus from us. Spiritual growth is a matter of new consciousness based on a new longing. Is it a longing to escape this world? Gnostics, Manicheans and other pure seekers were often accused of trying to escape the world.
A spiritual call reaches far beyond the world of matter. Just as the longing of the soul for healing and for becoming whole has an influence on all of humanity, so can the ‘new creature’, the new soul in the seeking human being, also have meaning for one’s fellow human beings.
Hermes said “That which is below is like that which is above, and what is above is like that which is below, to accomplish the miracles of the One.”
It begins with the search for silence. Only in a serene atmosphere, in silence, can the images of the plan in our soul express themselves.
(first published in Pentagram No. 1 2015)